Rubik’s cubes and blind men
Remember that infuriating, yet fascinating, contraption, the Rubik’s cube?
If you do, you’ll remember how extraordinarily difficult it was to get the right solution, even applying all one’s intelligence.
Now imagine a blind man, randomly scrambling a Rubik’s cube. How likely is it for him to get the right solution, by chance alone?
Ridiculous, you would say—but not totally impossible.
Now say you have two blind men scrambling a cube each. What is the chance that they both hit upon the right solution, by chance, at the same time? Impossible?
British scientist Sir Fred Hoyle was for many years the director of Cambridge University’s Institute of Astronomy.1 He calculated the odds against a simple functioning protein molecule originating by chance in some primordial soup as being the same as if you filled the whole solar system shoulder-to-shoulder with blind men and their Rubik’s cubes, then expected them all to get the right solution at the same time.
Remember, children are being taught that not only such a non-living molecule, but all the other complicated machinery needed to make a living thing, arose by chance once upon a time.
Sir Fred Hoyle once believed this story, but now says it is ‘nonsense of a high order’.
What then takes more faith—to believe in the Bible’s account of supernatural, intelligent creation, or to believe that life evolved, which is a way of trying to do away with the need for God?
(Source: Fred Hoyle, The Big Bang in Astronomy, New Scientist 92(1280):527, 1981.)
- Our original magazine article incorrectly stated that he had won the Nobel Prize. In fact, William Fowler, his co-worker on the same discovery (to do with nucleosynthesis), was a Nobel recipient, but it is widely believed that Hoyle was deliberately overlooked. Fowler himself willingly acknowledged Hoyle’s pioneering role in the very area in question. Some think the snubbing of Hoyle was due to his alleged ‘rudeness’ or perhaps because he began to see (and write about) evidence for a ‘guiding intelligence’ of some sort in the data he uncovered (concerning fine-tuning of the properties of the cosmos). Return to text.